What Will Sandy Mean for Election Day in Connecticut?

Oct 29, 2012

It's too early to tell how Hurricane Sandy will affect elections in Connecticut next Tuesday but as WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil reports, that hasn't stopped officials from thinking about a plan B.

Connecticut Secretary of the State, Denise Merrill says elections officials in each town were mandated to come up with emergency plans after last year's freak October snowstorm that had some impact on municipal elections. She says as long as local registrars have phone access, they'll be joining a conference call Wednesday to talk about any issues leading up to November 6.  "For example, if there are widespread power outages, whether we can move polling places. In this case, it's a federal election so we can't cancel or postpone the election at all." Right now Merrill says it's fingers crossed as the state waits to see the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy  "This would be very difficult to manage, I won't kid you about that. Because you have such a volume of people who want to vote. So local elections officials will be overwhelmed if this all gets shoved into next week. "It's not an easy task to get people registered, the lists ready, and everybody voting if there are polling places that don't have any power. And when you start consolidating them, then it really gets dicey." On Sunday, Governor Malloy extended the voter registration deadline  from Tuesday to Thursday at 8 pm. If damage and power outages prevent residents from registering, Merrill says this deadline could be moved into the weekend.  Meanwhile the fact two major weather events have come very close to Elections in the last year has raised the question why doesn't Connecticut have early voting? Merrill says the way the state constitution is written makes it very hard to offer that option. But lawmakers are working on it.  "And it would follow along with much of what other states have done. Something like 30 states have some form of early voting or mail-in voting." A ballot question to allow early voting won't go to Connecticut voters anytime soon. Merrill says it may happen in 2014. For WNPR I'm Lucy Nalpathanchil